Udall, Heinrich, Luján Announce Nearly $2.5 Million for Rail Runner Safety Upgrades

DOT grant will fund Wi-Fi enhancements necessary to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) on Rail Runner

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has awarded $2,496,842 in federal funding to the Rio Metro Regional Transit District (RTD) to make critical improvements to the New Mexico Rail Runner Express system’s Wi-Fi network that will support full implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) technology, a federally mandated safety system designed to prevent train accidents and derailments. The improved technology is essential to providing a reliable path of communication for an effective Positive Train Control system.

The award will enable the Rio Metro RTD to make key upgrades to the Rail Runner’s Wi-Fi network, funding its transition from an aging, proprietary WiMAX system to a cross-compatible Long Term Evolution (LTE) system. The upgrades will install 26 towers between Belen and Santa Fe, and equip 9 cab cars, 13 coach cars, and 15 stations with the Wi-Fi enhancements necessary for a PTC system.

“The Rail Runner connects rural, Native, and urban communities across Central New Mexico, expanding access to jobs, schools, hospitals, and opportunities, and growing our economy in the process,” said Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I’m proud to have fought for important federal investment in Positive Train Control to ensure that the Rail Runner delivers the highest standards of safety for the thousands of New Mexicans who rely on it to travel and commute each year. But we still have a long way to go before we secure funding to fully implement this system, and I’ll keep fighting for major investment to ensure that the Rail Runner continues to provide safe, reliable service for countless New Mexicans.” 

“I am proud to support the long-term viability of reliable transportation services like the Rail Runner, which provides New Mexicans with greater access to work, education, and health care,” said Heinrich.“This funding for the Rail Runner will provide critical safety improvements and maintain the vital link between our state's urban and rural communities. I will continue working to secure modern infrastructure investments across New Mexico.”

“This grant will enable important safety upgrades to a vital regional transit system in our community,” said Luján. “It’s important that we build on this modern infrastructure investment and ensure that the Rail Runner remains a safe and efficient public transit option for the students, commuters, and all residents who rely on this critical transportation link in New Mexico.”

Last year, in August 2018, the New Mexico delegation announced that the DOT awarded the Rio Metro Regional Transit District $29,359,208 to fund the implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) on the Rail Runner Express commuter rail, a grant which the delegation had written a letter of support for in June 2018.